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Agalloch's Aesop Dekker: "People Tend to Either Downplay or Overexaggerate the Role of the Drummer"

Agalloch's Aesop Dekker: "People Tend to Either Downplay or Overexaggerate the Role of the Drummer"
Agalloch official Facebook page

Aesop Dekker currently drums for the incredible and long-running metal outfit Agalloch, as well as VHÖL and Worm Ouroboros. Whereas I would love to spend the next three sentences exhausting my word count hailing his skills and making crap statements like "powerhouse dynamo" and/or "a whirling dervish of the skins" -- I will abstain, because he's been very vocal in his dislike of the ephemera of such language concerning drummers.

South Florida might remember this current West Coaster as a drummer and co-conspirator of seminal Florida punk-rock band the Fuckboyz back in the late '80s/early '90s. As a music journalist, in the past, I have failed time and time again to sing the praises of this band. For that I am sorry. Its entire catalog is flawless.

Dekker may no longer embody the spirit and chutzpah of a young punk rocker; truth be told, we're not entirely sure "smiling" is something that occurs naturally to him, but this roguish, rough-around-the-edges, thoroughly tattooed musician is one of maybe five people in the universe whose knowledge, understanding, and just sheer erudition of music is one I respect and believe in blindly.

Fuckboyz - Fuckboyz vs. the Hawaiian Mafia EP

Let's talk a little Fuckboyz first and what your memories surrounding that band are nowadays.

Aesop Dekker: The Fuckboyz was, and forever will remain my first real band, and my first connection to Matty Luv who I spent almost 15 years playing music with. Our first couple of gigs were really strange (a Special Olympics at our bassist's high school, a Take a Bite Out of Crime Halloween Block Party, etc...). Seaweed, our vocalist, has been my friend since the fourth grade and remains one of the greatest voices I have ever had the honor of being in a band with. Really, it was the tireless work ethic of Matty that made me a better player. The Fuckboyz was where I cut my teeth. I learned so much in so little time.

I was an avid follower of Cosmic Hearse and as such have a deep respect for your love of music, tell us a little bit about that project, how it came about, and why it stopped.

I started seeing these sort of blogs, mainly Erich Keller's brilliant Good Bad Music, and I loved the format. I have always been an avid "collector" of strange music. I get anxiety that there may be some amazing record that has eluded me. I am also the sort that if you were to come to my place, I will run around excitedly playing you records you absolutely must hear. So the blog made sense, it was that, me playing you records.

After a while, the format kind of died due to legal hassles and overzealous file sharing services deleting links en masse in order to avoid those legal hassles. It became too much work to keep up with. I have been thinking of doing it as a podcast, but I just need to find a coconspirator and a shred of time. I still meet people who tell me how much it meant to them, in some cases musicians that I have adored as long as I can recall. I'm truly honored that it was so well loved, but it just couldn't last forever.

 

You've been a busy drummer, appearing in a number of bands recently. As such, you are exposed to the "critical" minds of many armchair jockeys out there. What have been your least/most favorite descriptions concerning drummers at large?

Ah, my biggest peeve is that just because the internet provides the general public with a box for their opinions, then the general public thinks their opinions are important or well-informed.

I've read that I have ruined records as often as I have made them great; I have read that I suck as much as I have read that I am the best in the world. I hate that; it seems to be either dickish entitlement or bizarre sycophants.

I tend to stop reading reviews of my band's work after the first few. My roles in my different bands are different, but one thing remains the same: to honor the song. I think people tend to either downplay or overexaggerate the role of the drummer. Of course, there is the stereotype that drummers are dumber, nonmusical, wild, and drunk. Whatever; I have been all those things and more.

VHÖL - "The Wall"

The Serpent & the Sphere is an excellent album. Its predecessor, Marrow of the Spirit, is excellent as well. I'm no musician, but I know what I like; how do you guys feel concerning the criticism surrounding Marrow?

Some of the criticism around Marrow is deserved, as is some of the praise. It's a difficult album to digest, which was our intention, but there were issues too surrounding making it. Ultimately, it was a learning experience that made making The Serpent a more fluid experience. The making of albums is a constant learning experience.

Agalloch - "Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation"

You guys have a pretty full touring schedule ahead and you are in the studio with VHÖL. What's happening there and what can be expected?

Agalloch's touring schedule is slowing a bit due to Don Anderson's recent move to the East Coast. As for the VHÖL album, it is our second, and it sort of takes up where the first left off. Much of the same business model but better as we figure out improved ways of doing VHÖL. Mike Scheidt will be tracking vocals in the fall and the whole enchilada should be done and out around spring 2015 through Profound Lore Records.

 

What's going on with Worm Ouroboros?

Worm Ouroboros is working hard to write new material. An EP is planned for the near future and then more work on what will be the band's third full length release. It is an honor to play with Lorraine and Jessica, easily two of the most talented musicians I have ever played with. They continue to teach me and challenge my ability.

Agalloch will be hitting the 20 year mark as a band next year. Are there any plans to commemorate this?

No real concrete plans. It's definitely an achievement; I've only been with Agalloch for the last six years or so, before that I was a fan and friend. At the moment we need to focus on promoting The Serpent & the Sphere and make plans concerning more shows in Europe and Asia.

A cross-cultural, light-bending, muzickal wizard of the highest echelons.
A cross-cultural, light-bending, muzickal wizard of the highest echelons.
Aesop's Facebook page.

What's next for you as a musician? Any musical challenges you'd like to pursue that you haven't already?

There are still many cities and countries I would love to visit and play. More recording. My interest lays more with creating albums, long-lasting, tangible documents of the music I am working on. I'm always "in talks" with folks that I'd love to collaborate with, perhaps seeing some of those things to fruition.

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